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Inside Nerdist's Media Empire for the Internet Age

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This story appears in the August 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's Thursday evening at the Helium Comedy Club in Portland, Ore., and the crowd is excited and, well, a bit awkward. While waiting for the night's stand-up acts to begin, a woman flags down an overtaxed bartender to ask if the club serves zombie drinks. "What?" snaps the server. The customer repeats herself, snorts and elbows her date, causing the bartender to storm off, muttering, "I don't know what you're talking about." But other patrons nearby, smirking and shaking their heads, clearly get the gag. And if they're laughing, it's because--for once--the joke isn't on them.

Later that night, while riffing on the vile comments left by trolls on his YouTube videos, headliner Chris Hardwick talks about the nerd uprising. "I've gone from being bullied by jocks as a kid to being bullied by nerds as an adult," says the 41-year-old stand-up comedian.

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